Kings Cross Steelers won the Union Cup for the seventh consecutive occasion as Europe’s biggest LGBT+ inclusive rugby tournament celebrated its largest event yet at Dublin City University’s sports campus.
The Steelers defeated familiar foes Manchester Village Spartans 65-0 in a final featuring a special appearance from Nigel Owens as guest referee.
Railway Union won the first ever dedicated women’s 10-a-side tournament, the Ann Louise Gilligan trophy – named in honour of the wife of minister Katherine Zappone, beating Suttonians 51-0 with five tries from Stephanie Carroll.
Elsewhere, Dublin City University won the Ann Louise Gilligan Bowl beating Stockholm Barbarians 19-7 in the final while Manchester Village Spartans took home the Challenger Cup winning 10-5 against Liverpool Tritons as Emerald Warriors hosted the two-day festival of rugby which saw 45 teams from 15 countries compete.
Jono Elvin, Kings Cross Steelers No.8, said: “It’s incredible to lift the trophy again.
“There have been hard games throughout, the scoreline was probably a little tough on the Spartans, it was a tough game.
“At the end of the day you’ve played 160 minutes before that and it’s a big old build-up. Shout out to Dublin, it’s been a great tournament, really well organised.”
The Steelers have won all but one Union Cup, in its first staging in 2005 in Montpellier won by Les Artichauds, with the tournament having also been held across Europe in England, Denmark, Holland, Belgium and Spain to date.
Gareth Longley, Spartans coach, said: “It’s been absolutely brilliant. It’s great to see so many teams out there, some who played their first game together and others who played their 20th, 30th.
“It’s great to see gay and inclusive rugby growing every single day, every single month and every single year.”
The tournament, in its eighth edition, saw hundreds attend and kept entertained by the rugby as well as a wide range of activities, music, food and drink in the festival village and fanzone.
Lindsay Peat, Union Cup ambassador and Ireland basketball, soccer and rugby international, said: “The common goal here is fun, inclusiveness, rugby and just have a great weekend of the human side to the game and what element that brings.”
Guinness, title sponsor of the Guinness Six Nations, has shown its support for the Union Cup 2019 before and throughout the tournament with the gates of the famous St James’s Gate brewery painted in the colours of the rainbow flag.